Serving the Public: Five Veterans' Journeys to Public Interest Tech

There are many paths to a career in government technology, including transitioning from within public service. Five U.S. Digital Corps Fellows share their public service journey from military to public interest tech as technologists in the federal government.

Joe Lindsey

Joe Lindsey stands outside near trees. He is wearing a gray vest, light blue shirt, and striped tie.

What was your military branch and position?

I worked as a BU (Builder/SeaBee) in the U.S. Navy.

What were you doing before you joined the U.S. Digital Corps?

Before joining the U.S. Digital Corps, I was working at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. My last positions there were as a nuclear naval painter and as a NAVSEA Basic Paint Inspector (NBPI). While working there, I went back to school and graduated with my bachelors in Information Technology and masters degree in Cybersecurity.

What made you want to apply to the U.S. Digital Corps?

Having already been working in the federal government for the past 11 years, I saw the U.S. Digital Corps as a way to continue to serve my country by making an immediate impact for people all across the U.S. The U.S. Digital Corps would also allow me to progress professionally as well as personally while still being able to contribute.

Are there lessons or skills from your time in the military that you are using now as a Fellow?

The first two skills that come to mind are: being able to have a lot of patience, and the ability to work with or deal with stress. Both of these skills allow me to handle different or difficult situations, and to be able to calmly handle them with ease. This allows me to always be flexible while focusing on the task at hand.

What’s one thing that you’ve learned or taken away so far as a Fellow?

One thing that I have learned so far as a fellow is that you are never alone. It does not matter where you are located, what agency you’re placed at, or skill track you’re on. There always someone there to support you no matter what it is that you may need.

Jenny Wang

Jenny Wang stands in front of a large black and white piece of art. She is smiling, and is wearing glasses, a white shirt and light blue denim jacket.

What was your military branch and position?

I worked as a paralegal in the U.S. Army for four years.

What were you doing before you joined the U.S. Digital Corps?

I have a diverse career background. I studied business in undergraduate, and interned as a business consultant at a nonprofit organization. I joined the U.S. Army as a paralegal for 4 years before I transitioned into the technology industry. I worked as an experience designer at a start-up and then at a small business research company. I recently finished my master’s degree in design and engineering from New York University.

What made you want to apply to the U.S. Digital Corps?

More and more talents have gone to the private sector for making advanced technology that is far from people’s basic needs, but the pandemic has shown that we need to improve people’s basic needs first. Government needs help from technologists to make services better for the American people, and I want to help with that. I also want to make a direct impact on people’s lives. So, I thought there’s no better place to do that than the government. I have been searching for ways to break into the civic technology field as a junior designer, and that’s when I found out about the U.S. Digital Corps.

Are there lessons or skills from your time in the military that you are using now as a Fellow?

Definitely. As a military paralegal and a soldier, I needed to be flexible, resilient, and to solve problems with what I know and have on the fly—and those skills help me to navigate my new role now. For example, I was assigned to a task that I knew little about, but what I do know is who I can go to for questions and what resources I have access to. So, I started by asking questions and digging deeper in the resources. It took a while and I got some pushbacks, but eventually I sorted out the complex system and was able to complete the task.

What’s one thing that you’ve learned or taken away so far as a Fellow?

Everyone is willing to help; you just have to ask questionsIt’s easy to get overwhelmed by what you don’t know and understand. I learned that I should push even harder to figure things out instead of feeling bad and thinking, “why don’t I know that yet?” Being vulnerable and asking hard questions is very important.

Thomas Sittmann

A tight close-up of Thomas Sittmann's face. He is wearing a dark colored wool coat and plaid scarf.

What was your military branch and position?

When I was on active duty, I was a 35P, a Cryptologic Linguist in the Army. I have since transferred to the reserves and serve as a 25D, Cyber Network Defender.

What were you doing before you joined the U.S. Digital Corps?

I was working as a cybersecurity engineer for the Army National Guard as a member of their incident response team. We supported all 50 states and four territories regarding incident response needs.

What made you want to apply to the U.S. Digital Corps?

I had the opportunity to work in civic tech a few years ago at the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA). I really enjoyed my time at that agency and the work was very meaningful. I wanted to get back into civic tech and work on projects that can have a positive impact on the lives of fellow Americans.

Are there lessons or skills from your time in the military that you are using now as a Fellow?

There were a few skills and lessons that I was able to take from the military and use as a fellow. Time management is one of those skills that I learned in the military that has been very beneficial for myself as a Fellow, especially in the beginning. The military does a great job of bringing different people together with different experiences. That experience has helped me to be more willing to reach out for help instead of being insular. The fellowship has provided a great opportunity and I would be remiss if I did not learn from colleagues in my host agency and GSA.

What’s one thing that you’ve learned or taken away so far as a Fellow?

What I have learned so far is everyone brings something unique to the team. It has actually been a blessing. I found that any question I have, someone out there has the answer or the same question. If they do not, they are willing to help. The cohort model has also made the transition very smooth and it is great to have 37 other Fellows to lean on for support.

Dhan Gurung

Dhan Gurung stands in front of a light colored wall. He is wearing a dark blue suit and tie, and a white shirt.

What was your military branch and position?

I served in the U.S. Navy and my last position was an Aviation Administrationman (AZ) and Quality Assurance for Central Technical Publications Library.

What were you doing before you joined the U.S. Digital Corps?

Before joining the U.S. Digital Corps, I was working as an IT Specialist providing desktop support for users at Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum in New York City.

What made you want to apply to the U.S. Digital Corps?

After serving in the military and working in the federal government, I was looking for new challenges. When I finished my master’s degree in Cybersecurity, the U.S. Digital Corps fellowship was the perfect opportunity and program for me to advance my career in the cyber field while continuing to serve the general public.

Are there lessons or skills from your time in the military that you are using now as a Fellow?

The values of teamwork and effective communication were some of the important skills I was able to gain during my time in the military. I am currently working on a project that requires me to collaborate with a large number of stakeholders, and working in a huge team and maintaining an effective channel of communication will be key towards the outcome of our project.

What’s one thing that you’ve learned or taken away so far as a Fellow?

I am very proud and happy to be part of this fellowship program. The Digital Corps founders and managers have been great mentors, providing resources for all of us to succeed in our careers. I am really impressed with their effective communications and management skills.

Anthony Barbara

A tight close-up of Anthony Barbara smiling.

What was your military branch and position?

My last position on active duty in the Army was as an Airborne Sapper (12B Combat Engineer, Parachutist) alpha team leader.

What were you doing before you joined the U.S. Digital Corps?

I was working for a managed security service provider (MSSP) as a junior security analyst. We had over 20 different clients. I would triage cases, perform investigations to determine if incidents were true or false positives, and provide recommendations for remediation.

What made you want to apply to the U.S. Digital Corps?

I had always felt the desire to return to public service after leaving the military. I was exhausted by the demand to only drive towards the sheer goal of growing a company’s profits. I wanted to help our government meet the tempo of the continuous challenge of integrating technology securely into its infrastructure.

Are there lessons or skills from your time in the military that you are using now as a Fellow?

For sure–being flexible and leaning on the skill of adaptability. Since things can change at any given moment, you have to assess the situation and make necessary adjustments. Another skill that I know comes in handy is backwards planning, because looking at the project from a goal date and making checkpoints helps to keep you focused. The process allows you to figure out where you can advance or make up time as you go on throughout the workdays, without feeling overwhelmed.

What’s one thing that you’ve learned or taken away so far as a Fellow?

You are not alone! Let me explain, there are moments where it feels like you are just wandering around, trying to find your fit in the organization or program, but remember there is a network of people here willing to help. I have learned that a lot of people are open to provide information or direct you to someone who may have the answers you need if you are just willing to ask.


Having a career as a technologist in government is a rewarding experience! If you’re interested in joining us, check out the U.S. Digital Corps for early-career opportunities (applications open soon!). For more mid-senior technologists, visit Join TTS.